If you’re a proud owner of a rubber tree, monstera, or fiddle leaf fig, you know indoor plants can instantly beautify your living space. In addition to being pretty to look at, houseplants also extend some incredible health benefits to the people who care for them.
INDOOR PLANTS PURIFY THE AIR
You might remember the basics of photosynthesis from science class – plants absorb carbon dioxide in our environment and convert it into clean oxygen. In addition to giving us fresh air to breathe, a famous NASA study from 1989 showed that houseplants help remove cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air. Follow-up research found that microorganisms in potting soil also help eradicate toxins floating around in our environment.
According to NASA, the golden pothos is one of the best plants for removing airborne pollutants. Bonus: it’s easy to grow. Plant it in a hanging basket – this agile plant can be trained to climb or cascade. If you want to follow NASA’s recommendation, one plant per 100 square feet of indoor space will do.
PLANTS ARE NATURAL HUMIDIFIERS
If you live in a cold climate, dry winter air can wreak havoc on your health. A lack of moisture in your living space can lead to flaky, cracked skin and painful sinus passages. While constantly running a humidifier is one way to solve the problem, decorating with lush greenery is a natural (and beautiful) way to replenish moisture in the air.
Plants take in water through the roots and release moisture into the air from the small pores in their leaves through transpiration. Some plants have a naturally strong rate of transpiration, making them ideal for increasing the humidity in your home. The Acrea palm is one of the best choices. If you don’t have space for a six-foot tree, the Boston fern and spider plant can also help keep your air moist.
GREENERY BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY AND MEMORY
If you’ve adopted the minimalist trend in your home or office, consider making space for a couple of plants on your desk. A 2014 study by the University of Exeter found that sprucing up a work environment with plants increased productivity by 15 percent. The study suggests that working in a green office made employees more physically, cognitively, and emotionally invested in their work. Another study by the University of Michigan showed that being “under the influence of plants” increases memory retention by up to 20 percent.
The benefits associated with productivity and memory retention are related to the visual aspect of being around plants. Find a plant (or two or three) that you find particularly beautiful and inspiring for the best results.
PLANTS MAKE US HAPPIER
Let’s face it – we’re all stressed. If you’re out of vacation days, try adding some plants to your living space. One study showed that people who keep flowers in their homes have lower perceived stress levels and feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Another study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggested that filling your indoor space with houseplants may boost your mood, reduce fatigue, and even improve pain tolerance.
From scrubbing the air of carcinogenic toxins to keeping our skin soft and supple, to reducing stress, there are plenty of reasons to fill your living space with plants.
Written by Kate Kasbee
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